In the solemn estimation of many pundits on the right, American voters stood on Nov. 6, 2012, before two starkly divergent roads – a well-worn path toward collectivism and the far-less-traveled one that the nation’s founders envisioned in 1776.
“Be afraid. Be very afraid. The America of 2012 is not the America of 2008,” intoned David P. Goldman, the always thought-provoking columnist known by the moniker “Spengler,” just four weeks before the election. “If Barack Obama wins this election, the America of 2016 will resemble the beaten and bankrupt countries of Western Europe more than it will the America we grew up in.”
Echoing many opponents of the incumbent, even those not known for hyperbole, Goldman warned: “We have one last chance to save the republic.”
In the final weeks leading up to Election Day, however, hope – and not the faintly remembered kind peddled by Obama in 2008 – seemed to be on the rise.
Indeed, Mitt Romney thought he had little reason to believe he wouldn’t be standing in front of the U.S. Capitol building Jan. 21 in a black overcoat next to his adoring wife, his right hand raised in front of Chief Justice John Roberts.
The former Massachusetts governor’s campaign plane was touching down several times a day in key swing states to greet vibrant, overflow crowds willing to brave the elements, stand in line for hours and, in one case, literally climb a mountain to display their passion to reverse America’s course.
The Republican Party’s conservative base already seemed to have demonstrated its razor-focused determination to ensure Obama’s defeat, filling theaters beyond expectation, for example, to absorb the film “2016: Obama’s America” and its frank assessment that the nation might not withstand another four years of the president’s “fundamental transformation.”
Meanwhile, the news could hardly be worse for Barack Obama. If it wasn’t the gloomy economic reports led by unprecedented unemployment figures or the spectacular implosion in Benghazi of a foreign policy that presumed a rise of “democracy” in the Middle East and the defeat of al-Qaida, it was the drip, drip, drip of revelations from insiders of Obama’s poor leadership and prickly temperament.
His signature achievement, to boot, was a monumental, unsustainable governmental intrusion into health care that was so unpopular it had to be shoved through Congress through political bribery and more than 2,000 pages of unreadable obfuscation.
A further kick in the ribs to a candidate already rolling in the gutter came from an increasingly disillusioned and doubtful ideological left, including the Obama faithful in the entertainment industry.
Filmmaker Michael Moore said Aug. 30, “I think people should start to practice the words ‘President Romney.'” Turnout is the key Election Day, he explained, and “that’s what looks pretty scary here” for Obama.
On the campaign trail, the optical contrast was glaring: an ebullient Romney – buoyed by a unanimously acclaimed knockout win in the first debate that seemed to shatter Obama’s caricature of him as an aloof, greedy capitalist – going from strength to strength, juxtaposed with a dour, worn-down president who seemed to prefer to retire to Hawaiian golf links and set up his library.
Polls showed the American people were mostly concerned about the economy, and here was Mitt Romney, the steady, squeaky clean, pragmatic businessman with a track record of turning around failing enterprises, to save the day.
Republicans, further, were heartened by the results of “unskewed polls” that didn’t use models based on 2008’s record-Democrat turnout. The adjusted surveys showed Romney winning, and internal campaign poll numbers, even on Election Day, pointed to a Romney victory, with an edge in Ohio, New Hampshire and Iowa, along with surprising deadlocks in blue states Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
On Election Day, even into the afternoon, the Romney camp smelled victory after being greeted by yet another enthusiastic crowd, this time at the Pittsburgh airport. Campaign strategist Stuart Stevens even seemed to already be shifting to post-election analysis, boasting, “A positive message always beats a ground game.”
How else to explain the shock that reverberated from Romney’s team when it became clear as Nov. 6 unfolded that Barack Obama would be given another four years?
The precise description of Romney’s reaction, according to an unnamed adviser who spoke to CBS News, was “shellshocked.”
Romney, after all, had told reporters on his campaign plane in the week before the election that he had written a victory speech and hadn’t bothered to prepare concession remarks. A fireworks show to celebrate “President Romney” was prepared for Boston Harbor.
Instead, though charges of vote fraud continue to this day, it seems a majority of voters, however slim, either are quite happy with the direction Obama is taking America or don’t really understand what he is doing.
Even if the warnings of impending doom from the right don’t pan out, already, before Obama begins his second term, the metaphorical State of the Union is a “fiscal cliff” that he appears eager to drive over with everyone on board.
Whether the citizen passengers consider themselves on a joy ride to a brighter tomorrow or, instead, are gripping the back of the front seat in sheer terror, there’s no disputing that the Nov. 6 presidential election will have far-reaching consequences.
That’s why it’s WND’s Biggest History-Shaking Event of 2012. And maybe of a lifetime.
WND’s other year-end picks: